This internship offered him many things and he made best use of each moment. He went on an endless journey of exploration which had no end. May his footsteps be the guiding path for others and he be the tomorrow’s rising star.
I am Rajat Agarwal, pursuing Masters in Physics at Indian Institute of Science Bangalore. I have been selected as an intern in Institute of Science and Technology (IST), Austria. The program operates under the name called ‘ISTernship’. Hence, I was working there as an ISTern (Yes, that’s what people call the interns there!). The numbers suggests that the program is competitive enough (18 students selected out of 600+ applicants). It offers summer internships to undergraduate students interested in basic research in Physics, Biology, Mathematics, Computer Science, Neuroscience. The minimum duration of the project is 2 months and cannot be extended to more than 3 months because the ISTernship starts from mid-May and has to be completed before mid-September as the IST graduate school program commences from the mid-September.
Well, I have done my previous internship in Italy in 2014, so I am pretty much prepared for this year as well to apply in Summer Internship Programs. Many of my friends have already done their internships in IST, Austria before, so I know everything I need to know about the program beforehand. I just have to prepare a good SOP and required a strong Letter of Recommendation from my project advisor.
My project was on Bose-Einstein Condensate, which is a rapidly growing field in Condensed Matter Physics. I was dealing with a system which reaches to a billionth of Kelvin! Can you believe? Yes, the coldest place on the earth is created in ultracold BEC atoms lab. Although my work was theoretical, but I was equally excited to work on such systems. I was already informed about my work before leaving for my internship. To tell you the truth, I didn’t have much experience on the topic but my lab group and the project mentor helped me a lot to successfully finish the project. The Ph.D.’s and the post-docs in my lab were really helpful and easy to approach. I learned a lot from them. At the end of the ISTernship, we had a poster presentation in which we got an opportunity to present our work. Preparing the poster was fun as it was my first poster presentation! We also got a chance to attend a lot of programs in the campus like IST Charity Concert, Open Campus Day, Special Lecture Series (I met Nobel Laureate, Sir Roger Penrose!) to name a few. Wait! Did I miss the sumptuous Barbecue festival inside the campus! It was delicious.
Last year I visited Italy and I realized the Italians are really helpful and kind-hearted people. But visiting Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary this time made it clear to me that all the Europeans, in general, are nice people. Almost all of the European countries have either the neo-classical architecture or the baroque style architecture which I admire a lot. I really liked a lot of festivals in Vienna and tried to go to almost all of them. The nightlife in European cities cannot be compared to any other nightlife in the world. The work culture in my institute was really great. We used to work from 9 am to 5 pm and then go out for hangouts in the city with friends. The weekends were never left out! They are meant to visit some new place every time. Monday mornings were really boring and it is very difficult to come back to the normal schedule of work after those two amazing days of traveling and sightseeing.
And amidst all these, I realized it’s time to go back to India. Alas! I will cherish all the memories of these 3 months. I learned a lot during this internship, be it science or culture. The institute is expected to expand into a full-fledged university by 2026. It received huge funding from the European Union. The researchers are well known in their respective fields and I highly recommend people pursuing the above-mentioned streams to apply in this program for 2016. I hope this program will continue to boost the academic career of many aspiring scientists like me.
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